September 15, 2002

Ruminating on Ruminating
Oh to have a two hour block once a week available to ruminate, to think, to plan, to dream! A block during which to pull together the disparate threads of our personality, to recognize our contradictions (dreams are about such – our desperate nightly gambol to make sense via nonsense…I see my dog dreaming and wonder what has him so agitated – the squirrel that got away? What disparate strands must his dogginess resolve at the end of the day – that he longs to run free but his master always has him on a leash?).

Thoreau referred to this block of time as having a “margin to life”, those white borders of emptiness framing each page of our life script. He longed for a wide margin, but a thin margin will do. Keeping a journal is a nightly attempt to ruminate, to organize, to let go of grievances against others but also against self. We all attempt consciously or subconsciously to make our lives artful, which is a way of saying to make sense of it, to realize that we are moving forward. To have nothing wasted is the aim of great art.

Ruminating is especially effective while walking. A hike in the woods is the perfect setting. Thoreau said to “trust no thought arrived at sitting down”, which may sound extreme but there is something about the beauty of the surroundings that provoke one to appreciation, which is the ultimate aim of rumination. To appreciate where we are, what we’ve been given and where we are going. How can we serve God without appreciation, without thankfulness? If we can get into our heads His dramatic love for us, then we are thankful, and if we are thankful then we our more willing to serve. When we were newly converted, how easy it was to serve Him and others: we were so thankful.

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